Gunderloch, Rheinhessen, Nackenheim Rothenberg, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2007
This wine is so transparent in color that I expected a certain purity and was not disappointed. It has a lovely nose, mostly apples, with a pretty and complex lattice of spices and subtle minerals. In time, the mineral essence grows more pronounced; the verb "to unfurl" would be very apt here. The palate has vibrant, green-apple acidity and becomes sweeter on the finish where it is is balanced by the same acidity and a saline bite. This bite, along with a hint of sea shells in the mineral notes on the nose, gives the Rothberg a Chablis-like appeal. While only a runner-up for second place objectively, this is still the wine I wanted most to take home with me.
Georg Breuer, Rheingau, Berg Roseneck, Riesling Erste Gewachs, 2007
Slightly deeper in color and (correspondingly?) "warmer" on the nose where I find apples and some peaches and a light touch of kerosene. It is rounder on the palate than the Grunderloch, and despite the good balance of fruit, sugar and acidity, it feels coarser. A good wine that left me a little underwhelmed, as it doesn't really soothe and doesn't really bite.
Rebholz, Pfalz, Im Sonnenschien, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2007
The nose here is the most forward of the tasting, with tropical fruit, honey and flowers. The round palate replays the same motif, note for note. Very impressive on the surface, but not really what I look for in Germany. But it's all good and I suppose a modicum of taming will help it shed some baby fat.
Donnhoff, Nahe, Niederhauser Hermannshohle, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2007
This is the most primal wine we tasted, one that almost nonchalantly shows its pedigree before it starts to shut down again. The fruit is very ripe on both nose and palate, but where the ripeness of the fruit acted as a sort of glass ceiling for the Rebholz, here it is only the backdrop. And what a long finish!
Sold out. This cost 260 , the 2008 costs 300 NIS.
Emrich-Schonleber, Nahe, Monzinger Hallenberg, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2007
I love this from the first whiff: complex, idiosyncratic, perhaps a touch animalistic. The nose develops a terrific show of minerals towards the end, while the palate tries its best to match it, starting out one dimensional, then filling out, complexifying, gaining a very handsome length and a crisp finish.
Schafer-Frohlich, Nahe, Bockenauer Felsenberg, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2007
I want to be a rebel but I come from a family of Polish Jews, so I'm embarassed to stick out in a crowd. So imagine my consternation when everyone except me went gaga over this wine. It's not that I disliked it or failed to take note of its fresh fruit and the subterranean vein of minerals lurking beneath its present one-dimensional facade and flaring up on the saline finish. I would like to have a good excuse for my indifference because this is a good wine and I love Nahe in general.
Heymann-Lowenstein, Mosel-Saaw-Ruser, Roth Lay, Riesling Erste Lage, 2007
True to form, Heymann-Lowenstein is the most Alsace-like wine, with a Gewurtz-like flowers on the nose. Alas, I felt it unraveled on the finish, where the acidity did not really gel with the sweetness of the fruit.
Keller, Rheinhessen, Dalsheimer Hubacker, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2006
Wow! The nose is really it! It is just so complex and vibrant and even now the fruit plays second fiddle to the flint and mushrooms. The palate is just as good, and probably more stimulating and challenging - raw, vibrant, its sheer energy and length besting most of the competition. And all that flint on the nose is as close to being moving that a damn rock has a right to be.
Wittmann Rheinhessen, Westhofen Aulerde, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2007
Another great nose. I guess I really love how the minerals beat the crap out of the (mostly white?) fruit. The palate is obviously balanced and elegant yet so closed that I can almost sense it strain to express itself and that sense of struggle is a plus, for me, in this context, as it lends it character. Fine acidity, once again.
Wittmann, Rheinhessen, Westhofen Kirchpiel, Riesling Grosses Gewachs, 2007
This is much more refined and elegant than the Aulerde, yet in a way they're both two sides of the same coin, which is to say the wine-maker's signature is as clear as the difference in terroir. Terrific structure and a fine bite on the finish.
Finally, for dessert, a surprise:
Rebholz, Pfalz, Godramsteiner Munzberg, Muskateller Auslese, 2005
Slutty guayava fruit, mint, lavender. Round, with acidity on the low side, but very tasty and a good sudden-death round in blind tastings.
190 NIS for a half-bottle.